Plaguebringers: Kristi Noem and Emily Murphy Are Trying to Kill You

Trump, Pence, and Kushner sabotaged the pandemic response. But they have accomplices.

THE SECOND WEEK IN AUGUST, 365,979 motorcycle enthusiasts descended on the sleepy town of Sturgis, South Dakota, for the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™. Health experts warned Kristi Noem, the Republican governor, that allowing so many outsiders into the state in the middle of a pandemic was gravely irresponsible. Events like this, where thousands of tourists flocked from around the country, were being canceled everywhere. Instead of the health experts, Noem listened to Donald John Trump.

This is no great shock. In the last 11 years, the ambitious Noem has risen from the South Dakota House of Representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives to the Governor’s Mansion to an appearance at the Republican National Convention. For this, she is envied in GOP circles. As Kevin McCarthy, the (seditiously corrupt) House Minority Leader, wistfully remarked to the New York Times, “I look at Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and I look at Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, right? Ten years ago they were sitting in House seats.”

But ambition and competence, alas, can be mutually exclusive. Before covid-19, Noem’s greatest claim to fame was spearheading South Dakota’s widely mocked “Meth, We’re On It” advertising campaign, so it’s perhaps not a surprise that her decision-making skills are suspect.

The health experts were right, as health experts tend to be. In the weeks after Sturgis, covid-19 numbers began to spike across the Dakotas and the Upper Midwest. The Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™ was a superspreader event—probably the biggest and most consequential one anywhere on the planet. Three months after the bikers roared away, more than half the people in South Dakota tested for covid-19 are positive. (In New York, by way of comparison, the rate of infection this month rose from 1.6 to 3 percent). The state has the third-highest coronavirus mortality rate in the world. The highest? North Dakota. Most of the top 50 are either former Eastern Bloc countries or U.S. states with Republican governors:

Noem, a Trump loyalist, still hasn’t imposed a mask mandate, and seems to think masks don’t help slow the spread. Look at the disingenuous framing of this statement—as if the way the pandemic was handled in New York, where I live, had negligible impact on public health:

Whether Noem really believes this, or is merely parroting disinformation to appeal to her Trump-drunk base, the fact remains that South Dakota’s response to the pandemic has been a catastrophic failure. “Meth, We Got This” has become “Covid-19, We Got This.”

It was a year ago this week that the novel coronavirus first reared its ugly head in Wuhan Province. That Republicans are still publicly questioning the efficacy of masks is unconscionable. In Florida, I’m told, with its own Trumpy governor in Ron De(ath)Santis, many people don’t wear masks even inside stores. Because of this egregious disinformation campaign, there are plenty of Americans who still believe that covid-19 is a hoax—despite the fact that Trump himself came down with it. There are people deathly ill with the virus who won’t recant this belief, even as they are being intubated. This is a health crisis that should be unthinkable in a nation with the financial, medical, scientific, and human resources we enjoy. And here is coattail-riding Kristi Noem, gleefully egging on the idiots, still, as her constituents horribly die.

In Washington, meanwhile, a bureaucrat named Emily Murphy, a Trump loyalist who heads the GSA, is personally responsible for not producing the “ascertainment” of the election—that is, the apparent winner—despite the fact that, you know, Biden kicked the president’s ass. As a result of her ill-founded intransigence, the President-Elect is being denied access to vital intelligence and other executive agencies. This is making the country less safe, full stop, both in terms of national security and the covid-19 response.

One would presume that a person with an obvious comorbidity would do everything in her power to stop the spread, but no: Murphy is holding the line for Trump. Is she hoping for a pardon, for that time she lied during a Congressional hearing about Trump’s DC hotel? Does she indulge in shower-nozzle fantasies of holding Donald to her bosom after Melania leaves him, catering to his every demented whim, and succeeding the First Lady as Wife #4? Is she just a giant asshole? I don’t much care, but American lives are literally being sacrificed to her obduracy.

A sizable percentage of the country has been brainwashed by MAGA propaganda. There are tens of millions of Fox News zombies, insisting black is white even as darkness envelops them. How many Americans have to perish before the notion of covid-19 as a hoax, of masks as useless, of the pandemic as liberal fiction designed to hurt Trump in the election is rightly regarded as insidious lies? By the time Joe Biden is sworn in, covid-19 may well have killed more Americans than the Civil War. Death can penetrate the bubble of ignorant Limbaughvian rage, surely? Can we maybe not kill three quarters of a million people to own the libs?

Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and Jared Kushner intentionally bungled the pandemic response. Those three are the ultimate authors of this passive genocide, and history will remember them as such. But they had plenty of accomplices. Hitler didn’t operate Auschwitz by himself, after all. He relied on his Kristi Noems and Ron DeSantises and Emily Murphys for that.


Note: It really is called the Sturgis® Motorcycle Rally™, with BOTH the R in the circle and the trademark symbol. Insert SMH emoji.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore. United States Congresswoman Kristi Noem of South Dakota speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington.